At the ongoing Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, along with separate data being reported by Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck is showing nice Phase IIb/III results in its next generation Hep C (and co-morbidity with HIV+) protease inhibitors. Gilead effectively owns the US Hep C market right now, as its similar "next gen" Hep C product, Solvadi® (sofosbuvir), has been on market since late 2013 (my backgrounder here). That one biologic has turned Gilead's CEO into a billionaire, here in early 2014 (due primarily to his long tenure at the company, and the associated mega grants of equity in the firm).
Separately, Merck is pressing its case to collect a 10 per cent sales royalty from Gilead -- on Solvadi, claiming the manufacture of it infringes earlier Merck patents (were I you, I wouldn't "hold my breath ," on the likelihood of that transpiring). In any event, here is how Reuters reported the Merck developments, overnight:
. . . .A combination of oral drugs for hepatitis C developed by Merck & Co appeared to be well tolerated and highly effective in treating the liver disease in patients also infected with HIV, according to data from a midstage clinical trial presented on Wednesday.
The Merck drugs, MK-5172 and MK-8742, which belong to promising new classes of anti-viral medicines, were tested over a 12-week course of treatment both with and without the older hepatitis C drug ribavirin in co-infected patients.
After 12 weeks of treatment, all 29 patients who received the two Merck drugs and ribavirin had undetectable levels of the hepatitis C virus. Among those who got just the experimental Merck drugs, 26 of 29, or 90 percent, appeared to have the hepatitis C virus eliminated from their blood. . . .
We will -- of course -- keep you posted. Technical issues are affecting the main site; use the backup -- for today.